Being wheelchair-bound and still stylish can be the ultimate challenge. It’s hard to find that balance between style and comfort, especially as a woman. The average, able-bodied female millennial has enough trouble going into a store and finding a garment that not only looks good but also makes her feel good. Adding a wheelchair and the inability to physically dress oneself makes things a hundred times more frustrating.
Because I’m home a lot, it’s very easy to want to stay in my pajamas all day. As the mother of a newly-diagnosed girl with an increasingly debilitating disease, my mom didn’t see anything wrong with letting me live out my days in sweats and pajamas. After reading that this could cause depression, she decided to make it her mission to ensure that I always felt confident and pretty in what I wore.
Having lived with mitochondrial myopathy for 14 years, I’ve developed quite the system for finding clothes that I love and am comfortable in, not only while I’m sitting in my wheelchair but also when I’m resting in my bed. It wasn’t always this way, though.
Being a young teen in middle school and becoming more and more dependent on my wheelchair, I watched as my friends began to make more trendy fashion choices. These were garments I knew wouldn’t be an option for me. But that didn’t stop me from attempting to squeeze myself into a pair of skinny jeans.
I tried to bear the discomfort of sitting for hours on a seam in a very sensitive area of my body but soon gave up. I still remember coming home from school and rushing to my room just so I could peel those darned things off and get into a roomy pair of sweatpants. Thank God, a couple years later some genius out there created jeggings. I will worship the ground that person walks on forever.
Even before I was confined to a wheelchair, dresses and skirts were not my first choice. To this day, I don’t enjoy the feeling of having to be aware of how I sit or move just because I’m wearing a skirt. Although, I can’t deny that I immediately carry myself a bit more upright when I happen to wear one. My boyfriend loves it when I wear dresses, so I recently added a few to my wardrobe. As long as they’re knee-length and contain some spandex in the fabric then I’m happy.
Last year, my family and I were invited to a wedding for a close family friend. I just happened to be at a Goodwill store and came upon a pair of high heels in my size (I have very small feet). After putting them on, it didn’t take long to realize that they wouldn’t work out. The lack of support and stability for my feet to rest on would’ve worn me out in no time.
Recently, I gave a pair of Dr. Martens a chance. My boyfriend warned me of how heavy they would feel since he owns a pair. Me being me, I had to see for myself. It wasn’t just the weight that bothered me. The stiffness of the leather was the deal breaker.
Following are the staple items I keep in my closet:
- Denim jeggings
- Layering pieces: cardigans, tank tops, basic long-sleeve tee, basic short-sleeve tee
- Stretch maxi skirt
- Sweater dress
- Maxi dress
- Tie-waist tank dress
- Stretch Bermuda shorts
Sometimes alterations are necessary to make a garment fit, but there’s no shame in that. As fashion trends are constantly changing and my style evolves, I have to relearn what works and what doesn’t.
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